This essay begins by considering the drafts Pound wrote for Canto 17, in order to show how Pound gradually developed a poetics appropriate to paradise. Though he once described paradise as the “divine or permanent world”, this canto represents paradise as a condition of restless metamorphosis, and it does so with poetry of anticipation rather than achievement. The essay then proceeds to reflect on why this poetics should be necessary. It compares Canto 17 to previous cantos, demonstrating the way in which this new paradise both departs from and depends upon other cantos’ depictions of modern politics and war, as well as its own references to Venetian history. The essay thus argues that, for all its beauties, Canto 17 represents Pound’s attempt to think about both the divine and the violent, the miraculous and the corrupt. So as to avoid merely pretty pictures or escapist nostalgia, Canto 17 addresses the problem of what it means to imagine paradise in the modern world.
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